Oil prices jump 2 percent after Saudi Arabia announces December supply cut

CNBC

  • Oil prices rose by about one percent on Monday after top exporter Saudi Arabia announced a cut in supply for December, seen as a measure to halt a market slump that had seen crude decline by 20 percent since early October.
  • International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $71.11 per barrel at 0051 GMT, up 93 cents, or 1.3 percent from their last close.
  • U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil futures were at $60.73 per barrel, up 54 cents, or 0.9 percent from their last settlement.

Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.

Oil pumpjacks in silhouette at sunset.

Oil prices jumped more than 1.5 percent on Monday after top exporter Saudi Arabia announced a supply cut in December and other producers also considered reductions heading into 2019.

Front-month Brent crude futures, a benchmark for global oil prices, were at $71.59 per barrel at 0749 GMT, up 2 percent from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures rose 1.6 percent to $61.15 per barrel.

Saudi Arabia plans to reduce oil supply to world markets by 500,000 barrels per day (bpd) in December, its energy minister said on Sunday, as the country faces uncertain prospects in getting other producers to agree to a coordinated output cut.

Khalid al-Falih told reporters that Saudi Aramco’s customer nominations would fall by 500,000 bpd in December versus November due to seasonal lower demand. The cut represents a reduction in global oil supply of about 0.5 percent.

Saudi Arabia is the de facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

An official from Kuwait, also an OPEC member, on Monday said that major oil exporters over the weekend had “discussed a proposal for some kind of cut in (crude) supply next year”, although the official did not provide any detail.

OPEC’s second-biggest producer Iraq has also indicated it may join in such a move.

Peter Kiernan, lead energy analyst at the Economist Intelligence Unit in Singapore, said OPEC was “focused on mitigating downside risks” after crude prices declined by around 20 percent over a month following a supply surge, particularly from the top three producers, the United States, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

For consumers, the 20 percent oil price fall since early October was a relief.

“This (price fall) is great news for the externally challenged economies of Asia like Indonesia and Philippines, India too, and helps also where inflation has been a concern,” Robert Carnell, chief economist and Head of Research at ING Asia, told the Reuters Global Markets Forum on Monday.

Major emerging economies like India, Indonesia and Turkey came under strong pressure earlier this year as their currencies slumped against the dollar just as oil prices surged, eroding demand.

Beyond demand concerns, a big concern for Saudi Arabia and other traditional producers from the Middle East-dominated OPEC is the surge in U.S. output.

U.S. energy firms last week added 12 oil rigs in the week to Nov. 9 looking for new reserves, bringing the total count to 886, the highest level since March 2015, Baker Hughes energy services firm said on Friday.

The rig count indicates U.S. crude output, already at a record 11.6 million bpd, will increase further.

“One thing that is abundantly clear, OPEC is in for a shale shocker as U.S. crude production increased to a record 11.6 million barrels per day and will cross the 12 million threshold next year,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia-Pacific at futures brokerage Oanda in Singapore.

Oil prices down on surging output, but Iran sanctions loom

CNBC

  • Crude output from Russia, the U.S. and Saudi Arabia surged in October.
  • The sharp increase in supply comes ahead of U.S. sanctions on Iran which are due to go into effect next week.

Oil prices fell on Friday as surging output by the world’s three largest producers outweighed supply concerns from the start of U.S. sanctions next week against Iran’s petroleum exports.

Front-month Brent crude futures were at $72.60 per barrel at 0441 GMT on Friday, down 29 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were down 24 cents, or 0.4 percent, at $63.45 a barrel.

Brent has fallen by over 12 percent since the beginning of October, while WTI has lost more than 13 percent in value.

“More troubling… is the shift in structure towards contango,” U.S. investment bank Jefferies said on Friday.

Contango implies oversupply as it means prices for future delivery are higher than for immediate dispatch.

This makes it attractive for traders to store oil for later sale, although Jefferies said “spreads are still insufficient to encourage physical storage.”

Prices for April 2019 delivery are around 20 cents above January.

Downward pressure on oil is also visible in the physical market, where Saudi Arabia is expected to cut December crude prices amid higher supply and a glut in refined products that has eroded refinery profits.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) boosted oil production in October to 33.31 million barrels per day (bpd), a Reuters survey found this week, up 390,000 bpd from September and the highest by OPEC since December 2016.

In the United States, crude production has established itself well over 11 million bpd, and the U.S. is now running neck and neck with Russia for the title of top producer.

Russian production has risen to record high of 11.41 million bpd in October, up from 11.36 million bpd in September.

With Saudi Arabia pumping 10.65 million bpd in October, combined output from the top-three oil producers is at a record 33.41 million bpd, meaning that Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia meet more than a third of the world’s almost 100 million bpd of consumption.

“This surge has driven the market into oversupply,” Jefferies said.

U.S. sanctions on Iran loom

Despite surging output, concerns lingered ahead of the start of U.S. sanctions against Iran’s petroleum exports from next week.

Iran’s biggest oil customers, all in Asia, are seeking sanction waivers.

“Potential waivers appear targeted at India and South Korea, and they require some reductions over current import volumes while still allowing oil to flow,” said Clayton Allen of Height Securities.

“We think Trump will agree to China importing some volumes, similar to the treatment that India and South Korea receive,” he said.

Japan is seeking a similar deal.

Despite these efforts, analysts said any potential Iranian oil sanction waivers would likely only be temporary.

“The U.S. may use waivers to slow-walk implementation, but these will not apply indefinitely,” he added.

Goldman Sachs said it expects Iran’s crude oil exports to fall to 1.15 million bpd by the end of the year, down from around 2.5 million bpd in mid-2018.

“We still expect that the global oil market will be in deficit in 4Q18,” the U.S. bank said.

By the end of 2019, however, Goldman expects Brent to fall to $65 a barrel, largely due to “the unleashing of Permian (U.S. shale) supply growth once new pipelines come online.”

Oil prices rise for first time in three days, but trade war drags 

CNBC

  • Oil has been caught in this month’s global financial market slump.
  • The ongoing U.S.-China trade war has continued to weigh on the demand outlook for oil.

Oil prices climbed for the first time in three days on Wednesday, but rising supply and fears over the outlook for demand amid the U.S.-China trade war kept pressure on the market.

Brent crude futures had gained 47 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $76.38 a barrel by 0441 GMT. They fell 1.8 percent on Tuesday, at one point touching their lowest since Aug. 24 at $75.09 a barrel.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures advanced 16 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $66.34 a barrel on Wednesday. They dropped 1.3 percent the day before, after hitting their weakest since Aug. 17 at $65.33 a barrel.

Both crude benchmarks have fallen about $10 a barrel from four-year highs reached in the first week of October, and are on track to post their worst monthly performance since July 2016.

“Everyone thought we were going to go into the $90s, but now we are heading for the $60s,” said Tony Nunan, oil risk manager at Mitsubishi Corp in Tokyo, referring to Brent prices.

Oil has been caught in the global financial market slump this month, with equities under pressure from the trade scrap between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that he thinks there will be “a great deal” with China on trade but warned that he has billions of dollars worth of new tariffs ready to go if a deal is not possible.

Trump said he would like to make a deal now but that China was not ready. He did not elaborate.

The United States has already imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has responded with retaliatory duties on $110 billion worth of U.S. goods.

In a bearish signal, the American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude inventories rose 5.7 million barrels last week, more than analyst forecasts for a 4.1 million-barrel build.

Investors will look to official government data on U.S. inventories due on Wednesday.

Oil production from Russia, the United States and Saudi Arabia reached 33 million barrels per day (bpd) for the first time in September, Refinitiv Eikon data showed.

That is an increase of 10 million bpd since the start of the decade and means the three producers alone now meet a third of global crude demand.

The United States is set to impose new sanctions on Iranian crude from next week, and exports from the Islamic Republic have already begun to fall.

Saudi Arabia and Russia have said they will pump enough crude to meet demand once the sanctions kick in.

“(After the recent drop in oil prices), this is not the time to back off, if Trump wants to put the screws on Iran,” Nunan said.

Oil prices drop as focus shifts to oversupply

CNBC

  • Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor said on Thursday the oil market could be heading into oversupply.
  • Oil prices have slumped this week amid declines in the stock markets.

Oil prices fell on Friday and were heading for a third weekly loss, pulled down as Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor said the market may become oversupplied soon and after a slump in global equities clouded the outlook for demand.

Brent crude futures were down 51 cents, or 0.7 percent, at $76.38 a barrel by 0331 GMT. The global benchmark is on course for a weekly loss of over 4 percent.

U.S. crude was down 64 cents, or 1 percent, at $66.68 a barrel. The U.S. benchmark is set for a 3.5 percent loss this week.

“Bearish sentiment could force a re-test of support in the low $70.0 per barrel range,” Fitch Solutions said in a note on Friday.

Saudi Arabia’s OPEC governor said on Thursday that the oil market could face oversupply in the current quarter.

“The market in the fourth quarter could be shifting towards an oversupply situation as evidenced by rising inventories over the past few weeks,” Adeeb Al-Aama told Reuters.

Saudi Arabia Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said there could be a need for intervention to reduce oil stockpiles after increases in recent months.

U.S. crude oil stockpiles rose last week for the fifth consecutive week, while gasoline and distillate inventories fell, the Energy Information Administration said this week.

Falls in stock markets have roiled oil prices this week as Wall Street had its biggest daily decline since 2011.

“The near $10 per barrel drop in Brent crude seen over October is a spillover from the global sell-off in equities and broader risk-off sentiment in the market,” said Fitch Solutions.

Financial markets have been hit hard by a range of worries, including the U.S.-China trade war, a rout in emerging market currencies, rising borrowing costs and bond yields, and economic concerns in Italy.

There are also signs of a slowdown in global trade, with container and bulk freight rates dropping away after rising for most of 2018.

Despite this, Fitch Solutions said “fundamentals in oil … remain broadly bullish”, largely because of the U.S. sanctions against Iran’s oil exports, which start on Nov. 4.

Washington is putting pressure on governments around the world to stop importing oil from Iran.

Most, including its biggest customer China, are falling in line, and Iran has turned to storing its unsold oil on its tanker fleet in the hope that it can sell the crude off quickly once the sanctions are lifted again.

Oil prices edge up, but set for weekly loss on stock build, trade row

CNBC

  • The U.S. crude futures and Brent crude futures contracts both increased on Friday but were on track for a second consecutive weekly decline.

Oil prices nudged higher on Friday on signs of surging demand in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, though prices are set to fall for a second week amid concerns of the ongoing Sino-U.S. trade war is limiting overall economic activity.

Brent crude oil futures were trading at $79.51 per barrel at 0521 GMT, up 22 cents, or 0.3 percent, from their last close.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 19 cents, or 0.3 percent, at $68.84 a barrel.

For the week, Brent crude was 1.1 percent lower while WTI futures were down 3.5 percent, putting both on track for a second consecutive weekly decline.

Refinery throughput in China, the world’s second-largest oil importer, rose to a record high of 12.49 million barrels per day (bpd) in September as some independent plants restarted operations after prolonged shutdowns over summer to shore up inventories, government data showed on Friday.

The refinery consumption may rise through the fourth quarter as several state-owned Chinese refiners return to service after maintenance.

Undermining the strong refinery data, China did on Friday report its weakest economic growth since 2009 in the third quarter, with gross domestic product expanding by only 6.5 percent, missing estimates.

The weak economic data raised concerns that the country’s trade war with United States is beginning to have an impact on growth, which may limit China’s oil demand.

The trade war concerns combined with surging U.S. oil stockpiles reported on Thursday are capping the day’s price gains.

U.S. crude stocks last week climbed 6.5 million barrels, the fourth straight weekly build, almost triple the amount analysts had forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said on Wednesday.

“EIA Weekly Petroleum Status Report was a complete shocker sending Oil markets spiralling lower amidst some concerning development for oil bulls,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading APAC at OANDA in Singapore.

Inventories rose sharply even as U.S. crude production slipped 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 10.9 million bpd last week due to the effects of offshore facilities closing temporarily for Hurricane Michael.

Meanwhile, Iranian oil exports may have increased in October when compared to the previous month as buyers rush to lift more cargoes ahead of looming U.S. sanctions that kick in on Nov. 4.

An unprecedented volume of Iranian crude oil is set to arrive at China’s northeast Dalian port this month and in early November before U.S. sanctions on Iran take effect, according to an Iranian shipping source and data on Refinitiv Eikon.

So far, a total of 22 million barrels of Iranian crude oil loaded on supertankers owned by the National Iranian Tanker Co (NITC) are expected to arrive at Dalian in October and November, the data showed. Dalian typically receives between 1 million and 3 million barrels of Iranian oil each month, according to data that dates back to January 2015.